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89Bogota Colombia third Car Free Day - and the United Nations Car Free Days Program

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  • Eric Britton
    Feb 12, 2002
      Dear Friends,

      The city of Bogota Colombia has just held its third Car Free Day, this
      time in collaboration with a number of other Colombian and Latin
      American cities, thanks to the cooperation of the United Nations Car
      Free Days Program. The UN program is seen as a hands-on effort to show
      how practical on-street solutions to the changes of sustainable
      transport exist – with a view to a major presentation on the results to
      the forthcoming Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

      You will find full details with all the results on the United Nations
      Car Free Days Program site at http://www.uncfd.org
      <http://www.uncfd.org/> . Click 2002 Events and then Colombia. There
      already is quite a body of useful information there (much of it in
      Spanish) and more will be added this week (much of which in English).
      In addition you may find some interest in the attached UP release which
      our colleague Oscar Edmundo Diaz from ITDP has kindly forwarded to us.

      There is now the intriguing question of where to hold the NEXT United
      Nations Car Free Days regional program and Car Free Day demonstration.
      The goal will be to work with a single main host city (as we did this
      first time with Bogota), and then bring in the mayors and others from
      other major (and smaller) cities in the region to observe and confer, in
      the context of a cooperative event along these lines of that carried out
      in Bogota. The hope is to do this in the months immediately ahead.

      Are any of you interested perhaps in getting involved in some way in
      this? If so, please get in touch.

      With all good wishes,

      Eric Britton
      Senior International Advisor
      United Nations Car Free Days Program at http://www.uncfd.org

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      By Associated Press Feb 7, 2002

      BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - In a program that's set to spread to other
      countries, millions of Colombians hiked, biked, skated or took the bus
      to work during a car-free on Feb. 7, leaving the streets of this capital
      city eerily devoid of traffic jams.

      The weather, which has been sunny and crisp in recent days, did not
      cooperate with Bogota's "Day Without Cars." Roiling gray clouds dumped
      occasional rain showers on Bogota, which is perched 8,500 feet above sea
      level in an Andean plain. "The rain hasn't stopped people from
      participating," said Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus, who pedaled over to
      the residence of the ambassador of Holland, Teunis Kamper, for a joint
      ride. Before the two set off together, a reporter asked Kamper if he had
      exercised to prepare for Thursday. "I'm Dutch," the beaming ambassador
      said. "I was practically born on a bike."

      Rifle-toting soldiers - part of enforced security to ward off stepped up
      rebel attacks in past weeks - watched packs of cyclists and people on
      inline skates weave past. "I thought I was at Venice Beach or
      something," said an American oil executive, who normally is chauffeured
      to work with a bodyguard, but who chose to walk on Thursday. One
      policeman watched with amusement as a novice inline skater had a hard
      landing on his rear, then helped the embarrassed man to his feet.

      Around midday, the sun broke through, the clouds lifting from emerald
      mountains on the edge of Bogota. It was the third straight year cars
      have been banned - with only buses and taxis permitted - for one day in
      this capital city of 7 million. The goal is to promote alternative
      transportation and reduce smog. Violators faced $25 fines.

      For the first time, two other Colombian cities, Cali and Valledupar,
      joined the event. "It's a good opportunity to take away stress and lower
      air pollution," said businessman Carlos Arturo Plaza, 48, as he rode a
      two-seat bicycle with his wife in Bogota.

      Municipal authorities from other countries came to Bogota to see the
      event, and were enthusiastic. "These people are generating a
      revolutionary change, and this is crossing borders," said Enrique Riera,
      the mayor of Asuncion, Paraguay. Mayor Alberto Gallardo of Ovalle,
      Chile, said his town planned to adopt a day without cars.

      Bike repairmen waited along paths and roads to fix flat tires and
      tighten loose screws. Bikes ranged from sleek 18-gear mountain bikes to
      ancient pedal pushers with peeling paint and bald tires.

      The day without cars is part of an improvement campaign that began in Bogota in the mid-1990s. It has seen the construction of 118 miles of bicycle paths -
      the most of any Latin American city, according to Mockus. Parks and
      sports centers have also bloomed throughout the city; uneven, pitted
      sidewalks have been replaced by broad, smooth sidewalks; rush-hour
      restrictions have dramatically cut traffic; and new restaurants and
      upscale shopping districts have cropped up.
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